Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Staycation in Quesnel

As is my practice - whenever I go to Quesnel for their City Council meeting, I will stay overnight to take in the sights of Quesnel including their lovely Fraser River foot bridge and the local River Trail

I knew that this would be a different trip when I arrived in Quesnel and there were 4 people with Sushil Thapar supporter signs saying "Don't bully Sushil", "Reinstate Thapar", and "Thapar is Right!" on Kinchant Street and St. Laurent at 6:20pm.  By the time last night's Quesnel Council began at 7:00pm - the protestor numbers had grown to about 20 and Quesnel's Mayor had asked the signs to be removed from Quesnel Council Chambers...

The meeting began with a 1 minute silence for workers who died on the job and a invocation (Opening Prayer) lead by Quesnel Councillor L-A Roodenburg which drew on inspirational statements by Alexander Graham Bell.  But then Quesnel Councillor Sushil Thapar attempted to have statements from the July 16th meeting (3rd censure/restriction motion) included in the minutes.  Both Quesnel Mayor Sjostrom & City of Quesnel Deputy City Manager Gina Albers reminded him politely that Council Meeting Minutes are not "verbatim" and the minutes summarize Council actions/resolutions at a meeting

Later in the meeting during consideration of a Development Permit for a new "Dollar Tree" store - Councillor Thapar began to make comments around local Quesnel developer Victor Newman which then led Mayor Sjostrom to strongly caution Thapar to be very judicious in his choices of words around Mr. Newman...

Towards the end of the meeting during consideration of a request to permit Councillor Thapar to attend this year's UBCM (Union of BC Municipalities) - Councillor Mike Cave proposed that the decision be deferred to the next meeting of Quesnel Council on Aug 20th as he wasn't ready to make a decision.  Council approved Councillor Cave's motion.  For myself - I was surprised Council didn't ask Councillor Cave to further explain why he wasn't ready to make a decision.  The money is budgeted so a decision to permit Councillor Thapar could have been made at that meeting

Finally - at the end of the meeting.  Quesnel Councillor Mike Cave was quite upset that his colleague, Councillor Thapar, suggested on his Facebook page that Cave didn't own property in the City of Quesnel which led Cave to bring out his property tax bill to show that he did indeed own property in the City of Quesnel and Cave further challenged Thapar to get his facts straight before make commentary on Facebook or elsewhere.  The whole issue related to the recent CKPG video in regards to the 3rd Censure of Thapar.  For the record, - Thapar, on his Facebook page, said:

here is another record for Quesnel council They have way more in camera meeting under mayor Sjostorm than any other Mayor. Burning of tax payers dollar took a new level under Mayor Sjostorm in last two month when everything goes through tax payers will be looking at bill of couple hundred thousands dollar. Four council members Scott Elliott, Laurey Roodenberg,Mike Cave and John Briscoe owns no property in CITY OF QUESNEL. Regardless how much money get burned has no effect on these council members. They are still paid from Quesnel Tax Payers. Read MS. Wild's letter to editor in Quesnel Observer July 20 th 2012 Page A9.

Then Councillor Thapar made mention of a Prince George Citizen story where a former Burns Lake mill manager received $809,221.06 for punitive and compensatory damages for being improperly dismissed from his job.  Read the story here.  Without mentioning the name Muriel Wild - this was Thapar's way of warning Quesnel taxpayers' how much they might be up for if Ms. Wild's case goes to court... I was surprised that Mayor Sjostrom didn't attempt to intervene and suggest that he stay away from making any comments, either directly or indirectly, around dismissed muncipal employees

Meanwhile - QuesnelNews.com reports on the Sushil Thapar supporters including commenting that Councillor Elliot took pictures even though he was asked not to do so... I can't believe that he would continue to take pictures of individuals supporting Thapar after being asked not to do so.... In addition, they also ask if those who don't own property in a municipality or live outside the municpality should be allowed to hold elected office.  Note - this issue was also discussed in Williams Lake and yet people like Sue Zacharias and Geoff Bourdon were easily returned to office last November.  Also - The Rush/The Wolf also reports on the Sushil Thapar supporter rally here

After the meeting adjourned -- I got an opportunity to meet Quesnel Councillors' Scott Elliot and Ed Coleman.  Very nice Councillors... :) and got to catch-up with my good friend Councillor Roodenburg on the local pool issue in Williams Lake.  And then went for a walk in downtown Quesnel, the Fraser River Foot Bridge and Riverside Trail....

All in all - a very good evening and look forward to my next overnight trip to Quesnel :D


Quesnel Council Highlights - July 30th Mtg

Courtesy of the City of Quesnel:

Partnership potential with China

Quesnel Mayor Mary Sjostrom and guests, Sue-Ellen Miller (School District No. 28 Superintendent) and Coralee Oakes (Chamber of Commerce Manager) shared their enthusiasm regarding the recent trip to China.

The motive for the trip was to explore potential economic development opportunities in Quesnel, backed by Chinese investment and to champion the development of our school district’s international student exchange program.

Bill review approved

A request to review seven months of visa bills by Councillor Sushil Thapar was approved. The Councillor, along with any other interested councillors, will meet with the Director of Finance at City Hall to review the City’s corporate visa bills and to gain an understanding of the process behind the corporate visas. These cards are mainly used for travel expenses, long term service awards, training courses and various small supplies where payment by credit card is required or is more efficient.

More on the infrastructure fund

Prior to submitting the two grant applications as discussed at the July 16 Council meeting, more details on the proposed projects under the new Community Infrastructure Improvement Fund (CIIF) were provided. As per the grant guidelines, grant funds cannot be used for feasibility and planning studies, so planning work on the Two Mile Flat trail would not qualify and further, that gas tax funds could not be used as matching funds for the project. Council approved the recommendation to submit applications for the North Cariboo Multi-Centre project in the amount of $4 million and for the trail rehabilitation project in the amount of $125,000. The CIIF supports reinvestment in existing community infrastructure and suggests that projects requesting less than $250,000 will receive priority. The City would be required to match any funding received.

New look for the landfill

Council approved the contract award for the Landfill Entrance Improvements/Weigh Scales project to Lauren Brothers Construction Ltd. in the amount of $294,000 plus HST and a 10% contingency if required. The budget for this project was $650,000. Contract work will include the supply and installation of the scales, scale house, electrical works, and sewer system. City forces and subcontractors will complete the remaining work on this project which includes water servicing, asphalt, fencing, and concrete road barriers.

Drinking water report presented

Council received the City’s 2011 Drinking Water Annual Report which describes the water system and provides a summary of quality testing and water management during 2011. It’s presentation to Council is required by provincial legislation and has been established as a requirement to ensure accountability to the community for the water service provided. It is now available for public review.

Development highlights

• The City of Quesnel will soon see a storage facility for “All Kinds of Storage”. Council approved the Development Permit (DP) for a mini-storage facility at 392 Johnston Avenue.
• A DP for building improvements by the Nazko First Nation office at 405 Barlow Avenue was also approved by Council. Facade improvements include cultured stone, new siding, energy efficient windows, and landscape improvements adhering to the Downtown Design Guidelines.
• Council authorized a Development Variance Permit ((DVP) for the construction of a 90m2 detached garage in the North Quesnel neighbourhood at 544 Callanan Street.
• A DVP was authorized by Council for the assembly of a 235m2 open covered building to be used for a synthetic ice rink. This structure will be located at 404 Redden Road. Council requested that a requirement be attached to this Permit to ensure the drainage system be sufficient for the area and that this assurance be provided by a qualified engineer, costs to be borne by the property owners.

Important dates

August 3 - 6 - ArtsWells Festival of All Things Art
August 4 - 5 - SkyFest 2012
August 15 - Tourism Awareness Day at the Visitor Centre
September 30 - 19th Annual Quesnel Women’s Fall Challenge


September 9 - Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder Awareness Day
October - Foster Family Appreciation Month

The next Quesnel Council Meeting is on August 20th at 7pm in Quesnel Council Chambers (2nd Floor - 410 Kinchant Street)

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Quesnel Council meets Monday

On Monday - Quesnel City Council will be meeting in contrast to their colleagues in the Cariboo-Chilcotin who aren't set to meet themselves (Wells, Williams Lake, 100 Mile House and Cariboo Regional District) until mid-August.  View the full Quesnel Council Agenda here

Major Items on the Agenda include:

a) Presentation by Mayor Sjostrom on recent trip to China - read here
b) Development Permit application to construct new 'Dollar Tree' store - read here
c) Quesnel Council to decide on information request from Councillor Thapar regarding access to VISA information for last 7 months - read here.  I wonder how this will be received by the rest of Councillor Thapar's colleagues...

d) Email request from Councillor Thapar to attend 2012 UBCM.  Read here.  Keep in mind that this matter is in keeping with the restrictions imposed on him by his colleagues at the July 16th Quesnel Council Meeting

Finally - Councillor Thapar, after his 3rd censure, has his supporters in Quesnel.  Read a letter of support from Robert Wayne here.  At the July 16th Quesnel Council meeting, Mayor Sjostrom, upon a question from George Henderson (Wolf/Rush reporter) confirmed that indeed it was precedent setting in BC that Quesnel Councillor Sushil Thapar has been censured three times by his own colleagues

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Donna Barnett sets the record straight...

From Donna Barnett:

"Earlier today, a media report indicated that I am considering running ‘under the BC Conservative banner’ in the 2013 provincial election. This is incorrect.“I want to make it clear that I am planning to seek re-election as MLA for Cariboo-Chilcotin in next May’s provincial election as a candidate for the BC Liberal Party"

Editor's Note - I am glad that Donna Barnett took the opportunity clarify the fact that she is running only for the BC Liberals' in the 2013 Provincial Election

Local State of Emergency lifted - Baker Creek

Courtesy of the City of Quesnel:

The City of Quesnel has cancelled the Local State of Emergency that has been in effect since Friday evening.

The declaration had been in place due to the potential risk of flash flooding after a landslide took place in Baker Creek near Pinnacles Provincial Park, about three kilometres upstream from where the creek flows into the Fraser River.

A team of specialists coordinated by Emergency Management BC and the City of Quesnel
visited the site on Monday afternoon, and after consulting again this morning, determined there is no immediate risk to the public.

The material that slid into the creek is solid material, including several large boulders, that is not expected to dissolve suddenly. The opposite creek bank appears to consist mainly of material that erodes easily. This is allowing the creek to carve a new path around the blockage.

Various agencies, including the City of Quesnel, will continue to monitor the site, especially during next spring's run-off period. A more in-depth geotechnical assessment may also be conducted to determine a number of things, including what caused the slide and the potential for new slides in the area.

Despite the risk of a flash flood having passed, the City reminds residents that the creeks and rivers in our area remain potentially dangerous places, and that people should always exercise caution when enjoying them.

The City thanks residents for their cooperation, patience and understanding during this event.

Monday, July 23, 2012

BC v Alberta showdown over 'Northern Gateway'

Earlier today - Victoria spelled its' five conditions to give favourable consideration of the 'Northern Gateway' project. For myself - the whole process has plenty of risks but also see benefits as well, depending on the ruling of the Joint Review Panel looking into this project which is scheduled to hand down its' decision next year. Many Canadians, like myself, eager await their ruling

Read the article from the Globe and Mail here
Read the press release on this subject from BC Conservatives' here

  Video from BC Environment Minister Terry Lake announcing the 5 conditions for consideration of 'Northern Gateway':   Video from BC NDP Leader Adrian Dix explaining his Party's opposition to Northern Gateway

BC Liberals' not for business....?

Earlier today - BC Conservative Kamloops Regional Director (and Kamloops blogger) Alan Forseth took the BC Liberals' to task over its' fiscal policies including a possible corporate tax hike schedule to take place in 2013 - read his blog post here

Meanwhile - former Cariboo Regional District Area 'F' Director and current President of the local Cattlemen's Association Duncan Barnett took Victoria to task, once again, over its' support for the Carbon Tax and the fact the tax is continuing to hurt ranchers' in the Cariboo-Chilcotin - read his comments here

For myself - I agree with Mr. Barnett in that the carbon tax is the only tax that charges for carbon in North America and if we, as a Province, won't entirely get rid of it, then let's give more help to our ranching sector so that they can compete with their counterparts in Alberta and USA.  Finally - for BC Conservatives' to continually 'squak off' about BC Liberal fiscal policies is really getting old because if they truly want to become government in 2013 and want to rid this province of the fiscal deficit (caused by external forces), then they need to say how they'll make up ditching the carbon tax and which provincial services (healthcare, education, social services, transportation, etc) they'll dump in order to bring the provincial books to balance.  Sound bites won't do.  Actual list of services that BC Conservatives' will dump is now needed as the voters' of this province need to know how each political party will serve the best interests of this province from 2013-2018


Donna Barnett doesn't rule run under BC Cons' in 2013

I can see Greg Fry's point - Donna Barnett could have taken the time to be crystal clear that she will not, under any circumstances, run for the BC Conserative Party in 2013, one could wonder if Donna Barnett is leaving her options open, in case the BC Liberal Party fortunes go further south.  This was not, in my view, Donna's best statement on her political plans in next year's provincial election

From the Rush:

Cariboo-Chilcotin Liberal MLA, says she still plans on running for re-election next spring.

“As of today I am running for the Liberal Party of British Columbia.”

But Barnett, who endorsed Liberal George Abbot in last years’ leadership race, didn’t rule out running under the BC Conservative banner.

“I’m not saying anything.”

In the past month five Liberal MLA’s, including Kevin Krueger, Kash Heed and David Hayer, all announced they won’t be running for re-election next year while high profile cabinet ministers Kevin Falcon and George Abbot haven’t yet made their decisions.

The question has taken on more relevance this year as the party continues to languish in opinion polls.

Stay away from Baker Creek! (updated)

Update #2 - Monday, July 23rd:

Residents are reminded to stay away from Baker Creek until further notice due to the potential risk of flash flooding.

The warning comes after a landslide took place in Baker Creek near Pinnacles Provincial Park, about three kilometres upstream from where the creek flows into the Fraser River.

A team of specialists being coordinated by Emergency Management BC and the City of Quesnel will visit the site later today to continue the investigation.

As of 10 a.m. this morning (July 23rd), the City can offer the following information:

. The slide may have occurred as early as June 28. There was a drop of water flow on the water reading gauge, which returned to normal a few hours later.
. Officials remain confident the blockage will not collapse; it appears the creek is creating a new channel around the blockage.
. The water flowing into the reservoir is exiting at approximately the same rate.
. If a breach of the blockage was to occur, officials estimate it would be consistent with the amount of water seen on the creek during this year's spring run-off period.

The only difference is that it would happen suddenly.

The risk of a flash flood remains. The creek may appear to be at a low level downstream of the slide; this is deceiving and may change rapidly.

The City of Quesnel declared a State of Local Emergency on Friday evening, a measure that helps the City quickly do work needed to protect homes, businesses, and infrastructure. This will remain in effect until further notice.

The City is working closely with Emergency Management BC to monitor the situation and will provide updates.

Check www.quesnel.ca for updates.

Update #1 - Saturday, July 21st;

Residents are reminded to stay away from Baker Creek until further notice after a landslide took place near Pinnacles Provincial Park, about three kilometres upstream from the mouth of the Fraser River.

Specialists from Emergency Management BC visited the site yesterday and provided the City with the following:

. The slide may have occurred as early as June 28. There was a drop of water flow on the water reading gauge, which returned to normal a few hours later.
. They are confident the blockage will not collapse.
. The water flowing into the reservoir is now exiting at the same rate.
. The depth of the water upstream of the blockage is estimated between 10 and 12 feet.
. If a breach of the blockage was to occur, about 30 cubic metres of water would be released every second; by the time it reached city limits, it would be about 25 cubic metres per second.

The average flow during flood season is about 40 cubic metres per second.

The risk of a flash flood remains. The creek may appear to be at a low level downstream of the slide; this is deceiving and may change rapidly.

The City of Quesnel declared a State of Local Emergency on Friday evening, a measure that helps the City quickly do work needed to protect homes, businesses, and infrastructure. This will remain in effect until at least Monday morning.

The City is working closely with Emergency Management BC to monitor the situation and will provide updates.

Check www.quesnel.ca for updates

Original Blog Post:

Courtesy of the City of Quesnel:

Residents are urged to stay away from Baker Creek until further notice after a landslide took place near Pinnacles Provincial Park.

The slide, about three kilometres upstream from the mouth of the Fraser River, was reported on Tuesday evening. Over the past few days, flow on the creek has been reduced by close to 70 percent, creating a risk of a potential flash flood. The creek may appear to be at a low level downstream of the slide; this is deceiving and may change rapidly.

The City of Quesnel has declared a State of Local Emergency, a measure that helps the City quickly do work needed to protect homes, businesses, and infrastructure. The City is working closely with Emergency Management BC to monitor the situation and will provide updates.

Check www.quesnel.ca for updates.

Lingering Effects from Chlorine Leak in Feb 2012

From the Rush:

Close to 5 months after the chlorine leak at the swimming pool in Williams Lake, at least one person is still feeling it's after effects.

Marilyn Haines coaches the Williams Lake Blue Fins, and was on site when it took place. She says she started feeling the effects of the leak immediately and says the symptoms have persisted to this day.

It’s been a long haul since then, I’m still having to use puffers, I’m still very affected by environmental factors that I never would have been before. If there’s smoke in the sky I’ve got to be very careful about staying indoors, even things like weed eating and mowing can set me back a few days.”, (says Haines)

Haines says without naming names, there are kids and adults from the Quesnel swim club that are still having physical problems with breathing.

Haines says what's even more frustrating is that no one from the City (of Williams Lake) has bothered to apologize for what happened.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Rathor: Make Woodland Dr Water/Sewer Provincial Election Issue

From the Rush:

A Williams Lake City Councillor is hoping next years' provincial election will become a platform for a lack of water and sewer services on Woodland Drive.

Surinderpal Rathor says “there’s a provincial election looming on our shoulders, I’m hoping we can tag into that and see the best we can make out of that and see some money with the help of our local MLA. I’m counting on this.”

Rathor says he also plans to lobby the provincial government regarding this issue at September's UBCM conference.

A recent survey of the neighbourhood found that if moneys are not sourced from taxes, funding opportunities or other sources that there is little appetite to pay for the services themselves.

Rathor says the total cost of installing the services would be around $3.5 million.

Video - Thapar vs Quesnel Council (Round 3)

On CKPG - Quesnel's Acting Mayor (Councillor) Laurey Roodenburg and Councillor Sushil Thapar debate the outcome of the 3rd Censure Motion/Restrictions imposed on Councillor Thapar

Acting Mayor Roodenburg did not apologize for the 3rd Censure Motion saying it had to be done while Councillor Thapar accused his colleagues of being dishonest, closed minded and not transparent with the taxpayers' of Quesnel

View the video here

What do you think? Is Quesnel Council in the right here or Councillor Thapar?

Saturday, July 21, 2012

MiningWatch seeks 'Interested Party' status...

As a result of the new CEAA (Canadian Environmental Assessment Act) Act - MiningWatch has tabled a motion before the Federal Review Panel for the 'New Prosperity' mine proposal asking that it be designated as an "interested party" in the Federal Review Panel's proceedings

Under Section 2(2) of the CEAA Act:

One of the following entities determines, with respect to a designated project, that a
person is an interested party if, in its opinion, the person is directly affected by the carrying out of the designated project or if, it its opinion, the person has relevant information or expertise

(a) ....

(b) in the case of a designated project in relation to which the environmental
assessment has been referred to a review panel under section 38, that review

Read the letter from MiningWatch's legal counsel here

Meanwhile, Canoe Creek expressed concern earlier this month regarding the Site Visit by the Federal Review Panel.  Read Canoe Creek's letter to the Federal Review Panel here  and here with the response by the Panel here

Finally - food for thought: I wonder how many people will get to express their views on 'New Prosperity' given the restriction on who may or may not get to have their say in front of the Federal Review Panel, in accordance with Section 2(2) of the CEAA Act

BC Conservatives' in the Cariboo-Chilcotin

This past Thursday - BC Conservative Kamloops area Director Alan Forseth reported on his blog that the BC Conservative Party Constituency Associations for the Richmond & Delta areas have now been formally recognized by Elections BC

Read that blog post here

Meanwhile - here in Cariboo-Chilcotin & Cariboo-North, there isn't a lot of activity from BC Conservative supporters in this area.  At one point, the BC Conservatives' had a Cariboo-Chilcotin Riding Assocation President in Brad McRae (former City of WL Senior Bylaw Officer) while, to the best of my knowledge, no BC Conservative Party activity in Cariboo-North

If the plan for BC Conservatives' is to run 85 candidates in all 85 Constituencies, including Cariboo-North & Cariboo-Chilcotin, they need to very soon get active BC Conservative Constituency Associations in Cariboo-North & Cariboo-Chilcotin, otherwise they risk being seen as a "fringe party" and thus leaving Cariboo-Chilcotin to be fought between the BC NDP (Charlie Wyse) and BC Liberals (Donna Barnett) and in Cariboo-North, having next year's election fought between Bob Simpson, and the candidates for the BC Liberals and BC NDP


Friday, July 20, 2012

Local Governments on Summer Recess

All Local Governments in the Cariboo-Chilcotin are on a summer recess until mid August with the exception of Quesnel Council which will have a meeting on Monday, July 30th at 7pm in Quesnel Council Chambers...

Please note - both School Districts #27/28 will resume their meetings' in September


Save Marshall Lake

This afternoon, my uncle Alan Forseth reports on an effort by some in Greenwood in the Okanagan to save Marshall Lake, just 13 minutes east of Greenwood

While I respect the effort of locals to save this lake, given such few lakes in the area, I must applaud the reluctance of Greenwood City Council to take this on (operating the dam which maintains Marshall Lake) as their residents' could be burdened with costs that they are not ready to take on

As one pointed out to me earlier today (resident in Okanagan area):

Unfortunately the lake over the years has tripled in size, Given the recent incidents in the Interior and Kootenays, I wouldn't want any Government to take the risk of such a large threat.

Which led my uncle to respond with:

That said, to upgrade the dam will likely cost no more than to improve what's there, and what it will cost for road improvements that will be needed if it's removed. The lake sounds well used year round, there's also a Forestry campsite that will no longer have any use -- that plus people have property on the lake assessed as lakefront --- what about them?

You can read the full blog post here

Total Burden on a homeowner - Cariboo-Chilcotin Region

At the Local Government Department - Ministry of Community Services, they keep information on tax rates and other relevant information on municipalities throughout BC

Just recently, they have published information regarding total taxes/charges burden for an average homeowner in all municipalities in BC for 2011 (latest tax year information available)

In the Cariboo-Chilcotin Region - 2011 Tax Year:

Wells: Population 245

House Value - $66,947
School Taxes - $255.00
General Municipal Taxes - $199.00
Cariboo Regional District Taxes - $69.00
Local Regional Hospital District Taxes - $43.00
BC Assessment, Municipal Finance Authority and Other Taxes - $34.00
Parcel Taxes - $474.00
User Fees - $328.00

Total Taxes/Charges burden on average homeowner in Wells - $1,402

Quesnel: Population 10,007

House Value - $165,607
School Taxes - $631.00
General Municipal Taxes - $639.00
Cariboo Regional District Taxes - $305.00
Local Regional Hospital District Taxes - $107.00
BC Assessment, Municipal Finance Authority and Other Taxes - $10.00
Parcel Taxes - $166.00
User Fees - $407.00

Total Taxes/Charges burden on average homeowner in Quesnel - $2,266

Williams Lake: Population 10,832

House Value - $194,563
School Taxes - $581.00
General Municipal Taxes - $1,023.00
Cariboo Regional District Taxes - $290.00
Local Regional Hospital District Taxes - $126.00
BC Assessment, Municipal Finance Authority and Other Taxes - $40.00
Parcel Taxes - $124.00
User Fees - $499.00

Total Taxes/Charges burden on average homeowner in Williams Lake - $2,685

100 Mile House: Population 1,886

House Value - $167,755
School Taxes - $501.00
General Municipal Taxes - $752.00
Cariboo Regional District Taxes - $235.00
Local Regional Hospital District Taxes - $109.00
BC Assessment, Municipal Finance Authority and Other Taxes - $74.00
Parcel Taxes - $114.00
User Fees - $429.00

Total Taxes/Charges burden on average homeowner in 100 Mile House - $2,212

Meriel Wild speaks out

In a letter to the editor in today's Quesnel Cariboo Observer - former City of Quesnel employee Meriel Wild questioned the fiscal management skills of Quesnel Council's Executive Committee who is made up of Quesnel Mayor Mary Sjostrom and Quesnel City Councillors' Laurey Roodenburg & Ed Coleman.  Note it is not often that you see former municipal employees take a swipe at their former employer

From today's Quesnel Cariboo Observer:

I think it is important for the taxpayers' of Quesnel to know just how fiscally irresponsible most of the elected officials really are

As you will know from the Quesnel Cariboo Observer article on June 29th, I was fired following a complaint against the City Manager (former Quesnel City Manager John Stecyk)

My stress leave was only the 2nd time in 9+ years that I was absent on medical leave.  It is also important to know that I was not the only one experiencing problems, but I was the only one who was prepared to make a formal complaint

Quesnel's Mayor and Council were aware last June that Quesnel City Staff were not happy and, last December, because of their failure to act, we lost a much loved long term (23 years) staff, due to the difficult work conditions we were experiencing

Although skills can be replaced, the organization (City of Quesnel) cannot afford to lose its' knowledge base in this way

As there was no process to deal with my complaint - the Executive Committee of Quesnel Council (Mayor Mary Sjostrom and Councillors Laurey Roodenburg and Ed Coleman) created one, and all parties agreed to this

All meetings were supposed to be "with prejudice".  In spite of the agreement, the Executive Committee refused to follow their own process through to the final step -- hiring an outside consultant  to advise on a resolution.  They claimed it would be a waste of taxpayers' money

Nevertheless, my complaint was upheld, but then I was promptly fired without notice.  The City of Quesnel has admitted it is "without just cause"

Thus, it is difficult to comprehend the Executive Committee's stated concerns regarding taxpayers' money when, in practically the same breath, it fired me without just cause thereby exposed itself to my claim for damages for wrongful dismissal.  As well as severance, there are also hidden costs to the organization (City of Quesnel)

I was not able to leave the department (Human Resources) in good order because I was fired without notice.  My termination has left the City (of Quesnel) with the loss of my institutional knowledge and this is already creating further liabilities for the City

I am very appreciative of the support I have received from both colleagues/taxpayers'.  I am pretty certain that there will be further losses to the City as more staff leave when they are able to do so, due in part to their disillusionment with Quesnel Council over this issue

The organization will suffer from the loss of this knowledge and experience, all because Quesnel Council has failed to put the taxpayers' and the organization  they are supposed to represent above their own personal agendas

I hope, through this letter, that taxpayers' will become more engaged, take more of an interest in how their hard earned tax dollars are being wasted and hold their locally elected officials accountable

Meriel Wild 

Sushil Thapar -- "I've done nothing wrong"

As I predicted earlier this week -- Quesnel Council imposed its' 3rd Censure Motion on Councillor Sushil Thapar and then proceeded to impose additional restrictions on him as well. The 3rd censure motion will not, in my view, stop Sushil Thapar from speaking out and may in fact, embolden him to speak out more often and not less...

From today's (Friday, July 20th) Quesnel Cariboo Observer:

Stripped of his Committees and having to seek Quesnel Council permission before representing the City, Councillor Sushil Thapar says he will continue to work for the taxpayers' of Quesnel

Monday night, Council unanimously passed a motion to censure Thapar for a third time, while stripping him of Committee appointments, removing him from rotating Acting Mayor and requiring him to seek Council permission prior to representing the City

It's unfortunate we had to take this measures, Quesnel Mayor Mary Sjostrom said.  Council quoted a number of concerns for the restrictions including respectful communications and how confidential information is released

In the June 29th issue of the Cariboo Observer, Thapar was quoted as calling his colleagues "freakin' idiots" after hearing of the alleged "wrongful" dismissal of long-term City employee Meriel Wild

The termination could have huge implications for taxpayers

Thapar apologized to his colleagues for his remarks during Monday's meeting

However, he maintains the restrictions imposed upon him will not deter him from continuing to work "on behalf of the taxpayers"

Thapar also said the sanctions placed on him only served to "discredit" him both as a Quesnel City Councillor and as a person

"I've done nothing wrong", he stated

" I did not break my oath, I have an oath to taxpayers.  I will not back down", further stated Thapar

Thapar has been censured twice before.  The first instance, it was alleged he was disrespectful to Quesnel City Staff -- a claim that Thapar denies.  The second censure was due to an alleged breach of confidentiality - another claim he (Thapar) adamantly denies

Sjostrom says the City and Quesnel City Council is moving on, regardless of Thapar.  "Nobody is hiding anything", she said.  "We are in compliance.  We're done"

Council has requested a In-Camera (private) meeting with Thapar to discuss his future role with the City of Quesnel and Quesnel City Council

"Any open, public meeting I will attend", stated Thapar, adding he questions the authority of Council to impose the restrictions

"I was elected by the people", Thapar says, "Not these (Quesnel Council) people"

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Pigeon Ave water upgrades start Monday...

Courtesy of the City of Williams Lake:

The City of Williams Lake will be replacing several water fittings on the water main under Pigeon Avenue starting on July 23. The work is expected to take several weeks, and there will be disruptions in water supply to the properties between Western Avenue and 11th Avenue (the 800 to 1100 blocks, as well as Ogden Street) while the water fittings are being replaced. Replacement of these water fittings is due to age of the infrastructure in the area.

Traffic patterns and driveway entrances will also be affected during the water fittings replacement program. The City will be closing off entire blocks during the construction activities for safety reasons of its contractors and the motoring public. All traffic detours and road closures will be signed appropriately. Extra care will be needed by all vehicles using Pigeon Avenue and the neighboring streets while work is being done. These traffic pattern changes will be in effect during the daytime hours from 8:00 am to 6:00 pm.

As much notice as possible will be given to each of the property owners as disruptions in water or traffic patterns might affect them. The City of Williams Lake apologizes in advance for any inconvenience this project may cause to the motoring public and property owners.

For more information, please contact the City of Williams Lake’s Water and Waste Department at 250 392-1785.

CCSAR thanks helicoper owner for helping out

Courtesy of the Cariboo Regional District:

The Cariboo Regional District’s Central Cariboo Search and Rescue Unit (CCSAR) would like to thank Mr. Wayne Peterson for the generous donation of the use of his helicopter, fuel and local knowledge on Thursday, July 12 which resulted in a successful search near Chimney Lake.

When the call was received, over 30 volunteer ground searchers were called to duty. A volunteer Emergency Management BC aircraft and an RCMP float plane were also utilized, however it was the local knowledge of Mr. Peterson that eventually located the missing person's ATV from his helicopter. This provided the general vicinity as to the location of the missing gentleman and a practical point to conduct the intensive ground search.

“On behalf of the Cariboo Regional District and Central Cariboo Search and Rescue, I wish to thank Mr. Peterson for the donation of his helicopter along with the fuel used in this search,” stated Central Cariboo Rural Caucus Chair, Joan Sorley. “I would also like to commend the volunteers of the Central Cariboo Search and Rescue for their tireless efforts and dedication to the Unit, and all other volunteers and residents who aided in this search.”

Further information about CCSAR, or to learn how to become a volunteer member of the unit, is available online at ccsar.ca or call 250-398-5445

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Summer Reading Program in full swing...

Courtesy of the Cariboo Regional District:

Children throughout the Cariboo are encouraged to join the 2012 Summer Reading Club taking place throughout the summer months at the 100 Mile House, Quesnel and Williams Lake Cariboo Regional District Branch Libraries.

The Summer Reading Club is a free program sponsored by the British Columbia Library Association, and is designed for children ages three to twelve, to encourage excitement about reading. Regular reading during the summer helps children to maintain, or even improve reading and literacy skills. The theme for this year’s program is “Strange…but true”.

Registration is easy and convenient. Simply visit one of the participating library branches during regular hours and ask for a registration form from the library front desk staff. Spaces are available in the Williams Lake program for three-five year-olds, in Quesnel for children aged nine-12, while all sessions in the 100 Mile House branch still have openings.

Contact your local Summer Reading Club Program Coordinator for further details or visit us online at cln.bc.ca for all current library service program offerings.


Email: qsrcoordinator@cariboord.bc.ca
Telephone: 250-992-7912

Williams Lake

Email: wlsrcoordinator@cariboord.bc.ca
Telephone: 250-392-3630

100 Mile House

Email: ohsrcoordinator@cariboord.bc.ca
Telephone: 250-395-2332

Cariboo RD opposes Federal Electoral Boundary changes...

Courtesy of the Cariboo Regional District:

The Cariboo Regional District (CRD) will be writing a letter to the Federal Electoral Boundary Commission to voice its opposition to the proposed realignment of the electoral boundaries which would affect communities in the Region. Under the proposed realignment, the District of 100 Mile House and portions of the south Cariboo would become part of the Chilliwack-Fraser Canyon riding with the closest constituency office based in Chilliwack, BC.

“The proposed changes to include portions of the south Cariboo including 108 Mile Ranch, and Lac La Hache and the District of 100 Mile House as part of the Chilliwack-Fraser Canyon, shows a lack of foresight and appreciation of the different issues faced by urban and rural residents,” stated CRD Chair Al Richmond. “Residents need to voice their opinions on this matter and help ensure appropriate representation for the Cariboo Chilcotin and to make sure common sense is being incorporated into the equation of regional representation.”

According to the Commission, the main goal in reconfiguring the boundaries is to divide the province equally into electoral districts based on population.

The Cariboo Regional District is urging all residents to voice their opinion regarding the proposed redistribution during one of the upcoming hearings closest to the Cariboo Chilcotin. Meetings are scheduled for the following dates. A full listing of the Public Hearing dates and locations is available online at federal-redistribution.ca.

Monday, September 17, 2012 at 2 p.m.
Prince George - Coast Inn of the North, 770 Brunswick Street

Thursday, October 11, 2012 at 7 p.m.
Kamloops - Kamloops Convention Centre, 1250 Rogers Way

Residents who wish to speak at a hearing are requested to notify the Electoral Boundary Commission, in writing, before August 30. Applications can be emailed to bc-cb@rfed-rcf.ca, faxed to 1-855-747-7237, or completed online at federal-redistribution.ca under British Columbia, Public Hearings.

For further information, contact the Federal Electoral Boundary Commission at 1-855-747-7236

"We Report the News"...

As people in Quesnel are looking for local news stories regarding the 3rd Censure Motion against Quesnel Councillor Sushil Thapar....

The Quesnel Cariboo Observer reports that they will cover the 3rd Censure Motion debate on Friday but in the meantime, Observer Editor Autumn MacDonald wrote a editorial missive about complaints on the Observer's coverage of the whole Thapar vs Quesnel Council debacle...

In the meantime, if you agree with Autumn MacDonald that the whole situation around Thapar & Quesnel Council is out of control... see below on how you can contact each of the 6 Quesnel City Councillors' and Quesnel's Mayor (contact info courtesy of the City of Quesnel website):

Quesnel Mayor Mary Sjostrom -  Email: msjostrom@quesnel.ca

Phone her at City Hall at 250-991-7477, home at 250-747-2924 or by cell at 250-991-9192.

Quesnel Councillor John Brisco - Cellular: 250-991-9262 E-mail: john.w.brisco@gmail.com

Quesnel Councillor Mike Cave - Cellular: 250-316-0536 E-mail: mikecave@shaw.ca

Quesnel Councillor Ed Coleman - Cellular: 250-255-9034 Email: edcoleman.quesnel@gmail.com

Quesnel Councillor Scott Elliot - Email: scottquesnel@gmail.com

Quesnel Councillor Laurey Roodenburg - Cell: 250-255-5394 or via e-mail atl_roodenburg@yahoo.ca

Quesnel Councillor Sushil Thapar - Phone 250-992-5494 or by e-mail  thaparquesnel@gmail.com

From today's Quesnel Cariboo Observer:

If I had my choice, I would kill every reporter in the world, but I am sure we would be getting reports from Hell before breakfast -- William Tecumseh Sherman

We do not make the news, we report it

And yes, that means, at times, gauging the "news worthiness" of a story. In the face of the Thapar VS Quesnel Council gong-show, we at the Observer felt it apropos (concerning) to gently remind our respected readerswe report, we record, we print

That's it!

In this paricular instance of the on-going Quesnel City Hall saga, we asked ourselves if we would travel the arduous path of covering the seemingly unlimited supply of accusations

The answer was yes

Basically, it was we run it all, or we run nothing. That was, quite simply, not an option

This newspaper is a record of the community and even if it makes our amazing little town look like it's run by a bunch of bumbling infants, this publication could not ignore the fact a Quesnel City Councillor was accusing Quesnel's Mayor of stealing

It was said in a public domain and repeated - a number of times

This publication did not ignore Quesnel Council's decision to censure Thapar on not one but three occasions (the third being at last night's (Mon July 19th) Quesnel Council Meeting, see Friday's Observer for more)

Had we ignored Thapar's original accusation, we would have ignored his subsequent comments, Quesnel Council's reaction and City backlash

Not exactly an accurate portrayal of what's happening, is it?

Are people sick of hearing about it?

Surely, they have to be, but tell them (Quesnel Council). They're the ones creating the fodder. If at the July 16th Quesnel Council meeting, they decided to hug it out and move forward, we would have reported that

Instead, there were accusations, swearing and general ridiculousness.

If you think it makes the City of Quesnel look bad, tell them (Quesnel Council members') that

We simply report

Progress Report on WLQS Project...

Courtesy of the City of Quesnel:

Another component of Phase 1 of the West Quesnel Land Stability dewatering program will get underway this week. Nine horizontal drain sites that will consist of about 70 horizontal drains will be installed across the bottom of the West Quesnel Land Stability study area (along Lewis Drive and near Avery Street). The work is scheduled to take about 14 weeks to complete.

The horizontal drains are long pieces of pipe (with a target of 125 metres or longer) that are drilled into the side of the slope. Groundwater makes its way into the pipe and flows out into a collection system. As these drains are emptied using gravity, ongoing operational costs are minimal.

The horizontal drains are part of a larger dewatering program designed to help reduce land movement in the West Quesnel Land Stability study area. In May, 14 vertical pumping wells were drilled at a number of different sites along Dixon Street, near Stork and Crane Avenues, and in a wooded area to the west of Abbott Drive near Dawson Street. A new storm water drainage system was also installed on Stork Avenue and Hawk Street.

Several supporting jobs are also set to begin shortly, including:

. Abbott Drive, Stork Avenue and Hawk Street paving is expected to be complete in the next few weeks.
. Lewis Pond dewatering begins this week.
. Fourteen monitoring wells (used to measure the effectiveness of the dewatering program) will be installed at various sites beginning July 23.
. Drain lines to connect wells and horizontal drains to the City's storm drainage system and electrical conduit to provide power to all sites will be installed next month.

There may be some localized traffic delays; motorists are asked to respect signage and flag people's instructions. The City thanks residents for their patience as these ongoing important investments are made in the West Quesnel Land Stability study area.

The WQLS dewatering program is a $4.7 million project. More than $3.1 million was provided by the Government of Canada and the Province of British Columbia, through the Building Canada Fund-Communities Component program, part of Canada's Economic Action Plan for this project. The City of Quesnel contributed more than $1.5 million to pay for the full-scale dewatering program. In addition to this, the City has invested more than $2.1 million on the West Quesnel Land Stability Program since 2000.

Arjun Singh engages with Kamloops voters'...

In a rare act - Kamloops City Councillor Arjun Singh has decided to engage his voters' in an exercise to get (in my opinion) feedback about his performance thus to date as a Kamloops City Councillor since last November's civic election.  Keep in mind, the usual time for residents' to hear from elected officials on their doorsteps' is at election time (once every 3 years)

To quote the blog post from YourKamloops.Com (Arjun Singh's website):

City Councillor Arjun Singh will be hosting gatherings, making himself available online, and doorknocking in Kamloops neighbourhoods and business districts this summer. Arjun will be reporting on his work as a city councillor since the November civic election, asking people for their views and questions on civic issues, and meeting as many people as possible.

Arjun’s tentative July 2012 schedule:

July 18th 2012: 6pm to 8pm: Blenz Coffee, downtown
July 19th 2012: 6:30pm to 8pm: Doorknocking in Aberdeen
July 20th 2012: 12pm to 1pm: Online video chat - http://www.livestream.com/yourkamloops
July 22nd 2012: 2pm to 3:30pm: Cafe Motivo, North Shore
July 25th 2012: 6pm to 8pm: Tim Hortons, Valleyview
July 26th 2012: 6:30 to 8pm: Doorknocking in Westsyde
July 27th 2012: 12pm to 1pm: Online Video Chat - http://www.livestream.com/yourkamloops
July 28th 2012: 2pm to 3:30pm: Visiting businesses in Sahali

Arjun will be putting out a schedule for August at the end of July.

For more information, please call Arjun at 250 377 1797, email arjun@yourkamloops.com , or visit www.yourkamloops.com

If Councillor Singh knocks on your door in July/August, engage with him and honestly tell him how he is doing and how he could improve because I believe he is genuinely interested in your thoughts -- good or bad


Tuesday, July 17, 2012

WL Council Highlights - July 17th mtg

Present: Acting Mayor I. Bonnell and Councillors Bourdon, Hughes, Rathor, Walters and Zacharias

Absent: Mayor Kerry Cook

Staff Present:

Geoff Goodall - Acting CAO/GM of Planning and Operations
Cindy Bouchard - Manager of Legislative Services
Pat Higgins - Director of Finance
Tom Chung - IT Manager
Lilliana Dragowska - Planner
Anne Burrill - Manager of Social Development
Ken MacInnis - Communications Coordinator

Meeting called to order at 6:00pm
Meeting agenda approved & minutes of the July 3rd meeting were also approved


1) Allison Ruault from Interior Health appeared before Council to discuss Interior Health's activities in the Williams Lake area

2) RCMP Inspector Warren Brown appeared before Council to discuss local RCMP activities.  In addition, the City's Safer Communities Coordinator (D. Dickson) appeared before Council to discuss Community Policing activities


1) Council received for information the July 5th/12th Accounts Payable Cheque Listings for information
2)Council approved travel and associated expenses for Councillor Bourdon to attend the 39th Annual Billy Barker Days Festival on July 21st in Quesnel
3) Council received the 2012 Second Quarter Economic Indicators Report for information
4) Council received for information a report from its' Director of Finance concerning the UBCM presentation to the Expert Panel on Business Taxation
5) Council received for information a report from its' Director of Finance concerning the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB) 2012 Municipal Property Tax Rankings
6) Council authorized City Staff to contract Genivar Engineering to complete a Topographical Survey for the Williams Lake Regional Airport at a cost of $5,700, excluding applicable taxes
7) Council authorized City Staff to complete the installation of the ten selected Cabinet Wraps and distribute thank you letters on behalf of Council to all those who applied for this year's Cabinet Wrap Initiative pilot project and honorariums to those whose pictures were chosen
8) Council awarded the contract for the supply and installation of a complete mechanical HVAC system for City Hall to Horizon Climate Control for the tendered price of $227,500, excluding applicable taxes
9) Council approved the installation of the fine particulate and total suspended particulate monitoring station at the Fire Hall by the Ministry of Environment and the Corporate Officer (Cindy Bouchard) was authorized to sign the memorandum of understanding on behalf of the City
10) Council received a report of its' Senior Bylaw Officer concerning an update on the Remedial Action work at the former Slumber Lodge (27 7th Ave South) and Staff were directed to notify the owner of 27 Seventh Avenue South of compliance with the order and appreciation for their cooperation.
11) Council approved the holding of the 2012 Terry Fox Run on Sunday, September 16th
12) Council authorized a licence of occupation agreement with the Child Development Centre for a Community Garden on the boulevard of Carson Drive
13) Council directed Staff to submit the Central Cariboo Arts/Culture Function for an UBCM Community Excellence Award
14) Council approved a Recommendation from Committee of the Whole to receive letters from the City of Burnaby and the Cariboo-Chilcotin Conservation Society concerning changes to Section 35(1) of the Fisheries Act, as contained in Bill C-38
15) Council approved the 2012 Youth Street Party on Friday, August 10th
16) Council agreed to endorse a City of Langley UBCM resolution concerning Medical Emergency Service Alarm (MESA) Calls Cost Recovery
17) Council received a letter from the Hon. Ida Chong concerning the June 30th installment of the Strategic Community Investment Funding. The City will receive $488,354. Future installments will come in March and June of 2013 with a final payment in June of 2014. Council agreed to forward a letter of thanks
18) Council received a memo from UBCM concerning the annual Mid-Sized Communities Forum at the 2012 UBCM Convention
19) Council received the Council Information Package of July 17th, as follows:

May 2012 - Community Energy Association re Link to Web Publications and Notice of Climate & Energy Action Awards Application Deadline;
June 2012 - BC Games Society 2011-2012 Year in Review;
June 2012 - Thank You from Canadian Cancer Society re Relay for Life 2012;
June 29, 2012 - Initiatives Prince George re "On the Move" Newsletter & Economic Update Report;
July 5, 2012 - BCGEU re Support Against Privatization of BC Liquor Distribution Branch.

Council agreed to adjourn at 7:05pm

City of WL being sued over 'Chlorine Incident' at local Pool

Over at Welcome to Williams Lake - they are running a story which quotes WL Blue Fins Club Head Coach Marilyn Haines as saying:

One result of the ‘chlorine incident’ is that five Quesnel families and seven Prince George families are suing the City of Williams Lake in a class-action suit, Marilyn noted. “The City is going to pay,” she said. “For us and for the lifeguards, though, we are living with long-term effects and have no recourse other than loss of wages.”

While I expect that the City of Williams Lake carries insurance for this type of situation - it is conceivable the entire judgement (depending on the amount awarded), if a judge so rules, could not all be covered and as a City taxpayer - I wonder how much City taxpayers' will be subject to.....

Watch for the City to give the usual No Comment while this matter is before the Courts....

Read the full article here

Pat Morton speaks out on 3rd Thapar Censure Motion

Update #1 (Wed July 18th) - I had one individual suggest that I now support the actions of Sushil Thapar over Mary Sjostrom in regards to speaking out on human resource issues or finance issues.  When I applaud the general theme of Mr. Thapar's actions -- open/transparency, I can not support how he goes about it on a personal level and on that - I still support the actions of the clear majority of Quesnel Council.  When it comes to finance/human resource issues -- there is a clear place for those discussions, that is "In-Camera" or in private meetings between elected officials and not through the media...

I ran the story because it is political news in Quesnel and my readers' decide how they feel about it by commenting on or not commenting on the story...

I trust that this makes my position clear as it relates to the recent list of stories involving Sushil Thapar - SBF

Original Blog Post:

Courtesy of QuesnelNews.com:

Thapar apologized to the mayor, council and the public for his unprofessional comments in the June 29th edition of the Cariboo Observer

Thapar censured and sanctioned by council at last nights meeting

It appears the council members that do not agree with Thapar’s open dialogue
with the public are doing whatever they can to keep some of their “dirty work”
from becoming public. This is the third time council has tried to put a muzzle on
Thapar but as Thapar says he was elected by the people to represent the people and
he will continue to bring financial and important matters forward.

What has he done that has made the mayor and the rest of council so angry?

1. Thapar brought forth information about the city manager John Steyck that was provided to the council executive committee but withheld from Thapar and (former Quesnel City Councillor Ron) Paull which was crucial to their decision as to recommend hiring Steyck.
2. Thapar brought forth information about the spending habits of the mayor, city council and city managers.
3. Thapar questioned the city on how Steyck was paid when he resigned and the information provided to the public and media came from the response I received from the city on my (Pat Morton) Freedom of Information request.
4. Thapar backed up Human Resources manager, Muriel Wild when she was apparently fired and no information provided to the media came from in-camera meetings.

Any information Thapar provided to the public did not come from in-camera meetings which is what this council is accusing him of. At the meeting last night it appeared council is using in-camera meetings inappropriately. As these meetings are to discuss, land, legal and labour issues I don’t understand how they can criticize Thapar’s actions and berate him just because they are behind closed doors and they feel it is an open forum for any comments.

The mayor stated other cities have censured and sanctioned council members and referred to Prince George, Fort St John and Langley. When you review these situations you will see they do not compare to the reason for this council to censure and sanction Thapar.

Prince George, the council member provided in-camera minutes to the media, Fort St John it was stated the reason for the mayor’s problems was "unacceptable" conduct and demands that he not be left alone with any female member of the city's staff., and in Langley the Mayor provided some false information to the council.

I feel if the city council has a problem with their reputation perhaps they should look at their actions and instead of criticizing Thapar for his conduct. They should be emulating him as he is trying show how open and transparent they all should be.

Differing Opinions on Draft EIS for 'New Prosperity'

Editor's Note - with all of the slow ongoing EIS (Environment Impact Statement) work for the proposed 'New Prosperity' project, I wonder if the deadline for the final Federal Review Panel report in November is still 'set in stone' or will it be advanced into early 2013....

Read below for the latest information on this file....

From the Rush: (Local Radio)

Two vastly differing views today regarding a letter the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency sent to Taseko Mines regarding the proposed new prosperity mine project.

The letter, dated July 6th, noted information gaps and missing information in a draft environmental impact statement report submitted by Taseko.

Xeni Gwe’tin Chief Marilyn Baptiste says its proof the whole idea should be shelved, “I would think this should be grounds enough for the government to put a stop to this process.”

But Brian Battision, V-P of Corporate Affairs for Taseko, says the letter is no big deal, “the draft was never intended to be complete or final, nor was it expected to be. This is an administrative step and it allows CEAA to give comment and guidance to us as we work towards completion of our environmental impact statement.”

Battison says they’ll submit that revised statement within the next few weeks. A decision on the project is expected in November.

Meanwhile, the Vancouver Sun reports the following:

Taseko Mines Ltd. made a "misleading" statement in a submission last month to the federal government about the potential of an earthquake-related environ-mental accident at its proposed $1.5-billion gold-copper mine in the B.C. Interior.

The company also failed to provide adequate information relating to the project's effect on the local environment and aboriginal rights, according to some of the more than 200 other critical comments made by the Canadian Environ-mental Assessment Agency in its July 6 letter to the Vancouver-based junior mining company.

The CEAA was responding to a draft Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) submitted to federal authorities in early June.

Taseko is making a renewed bid for approval to tap the riches of one of the world's largest undeveloped gold-cop-per properties located roughly 125 kilometres southwest of Williams Lake.

The company says the mine has a net value of more than $3 billion, based on current gold and copper prices, and will generate 71,000 jobs over the mine's 20-year life.

That was a compelling enough argument to convince the B.C. government to give the project a conditional thumbs-up in early 2010, with the province agreeing that the economic benefits offset the environmental damage caused by turning Fish Lake into a tailings dump.

But Taseko's plans were shot down in a CEAA report later that year that then-federal environment minister Jim Prentice called "scathing."
Among the numerous "information gaps" and question-able statements made in the Taseko's June 6 draft Environ-mental Impact Statement was the company's assertion that the mine is in a "seismically stable region" of Canada.

"This is a misleading statement," the CEAA said on one of the 45 pages of comments about the company's initial report

While the mine itself would be located in an area with historically low seismic activity, the CEAA noted that it is "immediately adjacent to a very seismically active region."

There have been 207 earth-quakes over the past 20 years within 100 kilometres, and 1,900 within 200 kilometres, the document noted.

Taseko's bid to get project approval has been launched amid the Conservative government's aggressive campaign to encourage natural resource investment as an antidote to combat global economic uncertainty.
That effort has included legislation to reduce bureaucratic hurdles, attacks on environ-mentalists, and even criticism of its own bureaucrats and regulators for being overzealous.

But if the federal government is trying to grease the tracks for companies like Taseko, that message didn't get through to federal officials from six federal departments, who along with the B.C. Environmental Assessment Office had numerous issues with the draft Environmental Impact Statement.

The EIS "did not meet the requirements of the EIS guide-lines," wrote Lisa Walls, director of CEAA's Pacific and Yukon region, in the July 6 letter.

The company document left out "critical aspects" federal fisheries officials need to consider about the impact on fish and fish habitat, according to the letter.

"The reviewers identified sections of the draft EIS where information specified in the EIS guidelines is missing, presented in insufficient detail to enable a determination of the potential environmental effects of the project, and/or presented using methodologies that would also preclude such a determination," Walls wrote.

Brian Battison, Taseko's vice-president of corporate affairs, stressed that its draft document was "not meant to be complete" and that the company's finalized EIS will be able to benefit from the government's feedback.

"There is nothing raised in CEAA's comments that we have not anticipated or that will be difficult to respond to in what will be our final EIS submission," he said in an email.

Taseko, in its written reply last week to the CEAA, said the company's "understanding" was that its draft was only an "administrative step and would not be posted on the public registry."

Environment Minister Peter Kent announced last November that the Vancouver-based company would receive another chance to get approval for the mine that was rejected in 2010 because of the extent of environmental damage, its impact on land subject to local first nation title claims, and its expected impact on fish, fish habitat and the local grizzly bear population.

The company has boasted that its new proposal satisfies concerns voiced about the project's likely impact on the environment and first nations.

Quesnel Council Highlights - July 16th meeting

Courtesy of the City of Quesnel:

Council passes censure motion (Number 3)

Quesnel City Council passed a motion of censure (No. 3) of Coun. Sushil Thapar citing a number of concerns, including respectful communication and how confidential information is released.

Council also placed a number of sanctions on Coun. Thapar, including that he be:

-Removed from any appointments or liaisons to Committees.
-Removed from the rotation as Acting Mayor and Chair of Committee of the Whole -Required to seek Council's approval before representing the City at any function or traveling out-of-town on behalf of the City.
Council directed that the issue of a Councillor breaking his oath on more than one occasion and not maintaining a standard of conduct expected of an elected official be referred to the Ministry of Community, Sport and Cultural Development. Council invited Coun. Thapar to discuss the ongoing issues in an attempt to move towards a solution.

City to apply to infrastructure fund

The City will apply to the new Community Infrastructure Improvement Fund (CIIF) in Western Canada. Western Economic Diversification Canada announced July 5 that it will invest more than $46 million over the next two years. The CIIF supports reinvestment in existing community infrastructure and can provide up to $250,000 in funding.  The City would be required to match any funding received.  The project(s) needs to be completed by March of 2014

Council opted to apply for two projects. The first is for a trail rehabilitation project for the current trail system including: asphalt; signage (both kiosks and information boards); upgrades to the artifacts on the trail; investigation of future trail expansion to the Two and Three Mile Flat areas. It is likely that gas tax funds could be used for the City's portion of matching funds.

Council also opted to submit a second application for the North Cariboo Multi-Centre. While this project does not fit the criteria of the funding program (new infrastructure construction or signification expansion of existing infrastructure), Council indicated it is important to reinforce to the federal government the importance of this project to the community.

Other News

- Council authorized the City entering a five-year lease with ABC Allen Business Communications Ltd. for 111.48m2 of land located at Sugarloaf Park. ABC currently uses 55.74m2 for its telecommunications equipment and has been doing so since 2001. The new lease will generate approximately $3,000 per year for the City with an annual Consumer Price Index increase built into the agreement.

- Council will submit a resolution to the Union of British Columbia Municipalities concerning the proposed privatization of the BC Liquor Distribution Branch. Darryl Walker, president of the BCGEU wrote a letter to Council asking for their support and for a moratorium on any decisions until a formal means for public discussion is established.

Important Dates

July 19 - 22 - Billy Barker Days
July 19 at 5 p.m. - Ten Percent Shift Presentation from CUPE - Quesnel Seniors' Centre
July 23 at 9:30 a.m. - Community Workshop: The Intergenerational effects of residential schools and the use of Gladue in Quesnel - North Cariboo Metis Society
August 3 - 6 - ArtsWells Festival of All Things Art
August 4 - 5 - SkyFest 2012
August 15 - Tourism Awareness Day at the Visitor Centre

Next Regular Council Meeting: Monday July 30 at 7 p.m.
Next Delegation/Committee of the Whole Meeting: Monday August 27 at 7:00pm
Next North Cariboo Joint Planning Committee Meeting: Tuesday September 11 at 5:30 p.m.

All above meetings held in Quesnel Council Chambers (2nd Floor - 410 Kinchant Street)


September 9 - Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder Awareness Day
October - Foster Family Appreciation Month

Monday, July 16, 2012

Report into Feb's "Chlorine Incident" released

Courtesy of the City of Williams Lake:

An investigative report into the Feb. 26 chlorine incident at the Sam Ketcham Pool by the Lifesaving Society has found that the harmful effects of the incident were minimized by coordinated efforts of facility staff, those associated with swim and hockey teams, and first responders.

The City requested that the Society investigate the incident and to make recommendations to help identify issues and prevent a similar incident in the future. The Lifesaving Society made several procedural recommendations, most of which the City had already implemented following the incident.

Suggestions include reviewing evacuation plans, improved liaison and planning between facility staff/management and other emergency agencies in the community along with a review and revision of post-incident procedures.

“This report confirms that Complex staff, and first responders responded professionally and effectively during the incident,” says Williams Lake Mayor Kerry Cook. “We also want to recognize that the Lifesaving Society found that swim club and hockey team volunteers performed admirably. Our first priority at the Complex has always been safety, and we never stop looking for ways to improve it. As such, the Lifesaving Society recommendations are being fully implemented to help prevent similar incidents from occurring.”

A liquid chlorine system was installed in the Sam Ketcham Pool in March, and there is no chlorine gas remaining on the Complex site.

The Lifesaving Society (also known as Royal Life Saving Society Canada) is a not for-profit organization that responds to requests for an expert opinion in a strictly unbiased, non-partisan manner in order to further the goal of reducing drowning and aquatic-related injury. The Society is the recognized authority in Canada in aquatic safety, lifesaving and lifeguarding standards.

The full report can be read here

Quesnel steps up pressure on Ottawa - NC Multicentre

Courtesy of the City of Quesnel:

A new public awareness campaign that has the stamp of approval from the North Cariboo Multi-Centre Fundraising Committee was launched today at the Post Office in downtown Quesnel.

The Multi-Centre Postcard Push is an attempt to rally residents behind the Multi-Centre fundraising cause and to ask for a significant funding contribution from the Government of Canada.

Four sets of postage-paid postcards have been designed. The cards are addressed to one of:
. Prime Minister Stephen Harper
. James Moore, Minister of Canadian Heritage
. Lynne Yelich, Minister of State (Western Economic Diversification)
. Bal Gosal, Minister of State (Sport)
. Dick Harris, Cariboo-Prince George MP

Residents are urged to pick up and fill in a postcard (or one of each) beginning this Thursday, July 19. Cards are available at:
. City Hall
. The Arts and Recreation Centre
. Multi-Centre booths at the Gold Dust Mall or upcoming Farmers' Markets
. The Quesnel Community and Economic Development Corporation office at 339A Reid St.

People may then post them individually (the postage is free) or drop them off where they picked them up.

"We want to let the federal government know that we are getting closer to our goal every day and that they ought to play a role in Quesnel's development, diversification, livability and sustainability," said Heath Onstine, the North Cariboo Multi-Centre Fundraising Committee Chair. "We need a commitment from them that will generate even greater community-wide interest, which will spur us towards our corporate and community fundraising goals."

To date, funding for the Multi-Centre includes permission to borrow up to $15 million from local taxpayers, a $4 million commitment from the Province of British Columbia, and $2 million from the Northern Development Initiative trust, a total of $21 million. The project has a $30 million budget.

The North Cariboo Multi-Centre will be a modern facility designed to replace a 62-year-old arena and aging theatre infrastructure. It features a 1,600-seat NHL-sized arena, a 450-seat performing arts theatre and accompanying event and assembly space.

Woodland Drive Survey Says...

Update #1 - a reader challenged me to say what I felt WL Council should do and here's what I responded with:

My own thoughts, if I was a WL City Councillor now, would be two options:

1) Request residents' to bring a consensus opinion as to which service they want immediately... and which service they feel that they can wait on...

2) If Option 1 can't be done in a reasonable time period, then take the entire issue to *all* residents' of Williams Lake (as any new additions to/improvements to the water/sewer system need to be approved by *all* residents who pay for water/sewer services by the City of WL) and lay out 4 options to finance water/sewer for Woodland Drive residents' including water only, sewer only, water/sewer or "none of the above" and given the price tag of $3.5 million - it must be a referendum vote

Finally - there would be very good cause to wait/see what the price tag for a renovated/new Sam Ketchum Memorial Pool is before deciding on the issue of water/sewer for Woodland Drive as residents' may argue (quite successfully) that we can't afford to do both at once...

Original Blog Post:
Earlier this year - City of Williams Lake Staff asked residents' of Woodland Drive to complete a survey around future water/sewer services... and as of June 29th, 36 residents' completed the survey

This was a follow-up to a meeting held with Woodland Drive residents' which was held on April 26th to discuss the options available to the City and to discuss next steps with the residents

The survey was split into three primary areas:

1) Water
2) Sewer
3) Threshold for Future

For #1 - 57.6% of residents said they experienced no water shortages while 42.4% of residents said that they did experience water shortages

On #2 - 18 of the 26 residents who responded said that they use a septic field as their sewer system while the remaining 8 said that they use a lagoon as their sewer system

On #3 - 84.4% of residents survey (27 residents') said that they want water/sewer, while 12.5% of residents' surveyed want water only while the remainder want sewer only

On personal contributions to a water/sewer system - a full 25% said that they were willing to contribute between $15,000-$25,000 to the development of a water/sewer system for Woodland Drive but for a established Local Service Area , a full 63% do not like any of the options for a Local Service Area...

As Staff note -  there is no clear message from Woodland Drive residents' which thus puts the following questions back onto Council:

1. Does Council want to proceed with construction of a sewer and water system to service Woodland Drive?
2. Does Council want to proceed with construction of one of either water or sewer services for Woodland Drive?
3. If Council wants to proceed with construction what year do they feel it should take place?
4. Does Council still support the options that they selected when direction was given to proceed with the grant application?
5. Given the information that staff has provided on why we were not successful on the grant application, does Council want staff to reapply and what for, sewer/water or only one of either sewer or water.
6. What direction would Council like staff to proceed with respect to project funding?
7. If Council wishes to borrow money with respect to this project do they wish to conduct a referendum or an Alternative Approval Process?
8. Council needs to provide direction on future subdivision requests that will be received if a water/sewer system is installed.
9. Consideration should be given about implementing a DCC Bylaw that would collect monies from any future subdivisions or building construction for the eventual construction of future water systems improvements.

Staff have laid out two options for consideration of WL Council:
1) Future Study of the issue
2) Pursue a Local Service Area (Water/Sewer) for Woodland Drive
3) Wait for Grant Money to come from Ottawa/Victoria

Finally - some of the individual comments left by Woodland Drive residents included:

I don't think it's acceptable for the residents to pay 100% of the costs. With the
high tax rate we already pay, the City could budget to pay a reasonable
proportion of the construction costs. I know there is a water utility but as I
understand it, that doesn't include sewer so the City could cover those costs and
any associated costs including digging the ditches, any repaving etc so that the
residents could be required to be the incremental cost of laying the water lines.

you would rather make a park for dogs to shit, rather then get water to those
who pay taxes

I am not sure my property value on my taxes reflects the true value of a house in
a neighbourhood with no water and with no plan to obtain water in the
foreseeable future. If we are on our own to provide our homes with water we
certainly shouldn't be paying $4000+ a year in property taxes.

You can read the full report here

Should Williams Lake have a Poverty Action Plan?

Last Tuesday, both Surrey Mayor Dianne Watts and Councillor Judy Villenueve and BC Children and Families Minister Mary McNeil were on hand to announce Surrey's Poverty Plan entitled: T.H.I.S. Is How We End Poverty.  T.H.I.S stands for Transportation, Housing, Income and Support.  Read the Surrey Now story here

Meanwhile in Williams Lake - last year's adopted OCP (with includes the approved ICSP or Integrated Community Sustainability Plan) does discuss this topic but in broad policy discussions with 'weasal words' like Consider.... and By 2035....

Surrey's plan is very specific with roles and responsibilities and specific or advocacy actions to be taken

With many in our community on very limited incomes or having specific challenges - a plan like this for Williams Lake and maybe even taking in the Rural Fringe areas would be helpful from both a social, community development and even crime prevention standpoints...

Meanwhile - in a brief conversation with City of Williams Lake Acting CAO Geoff Goodall over a new Zoning Bylaw, he informed me that Williams Lake Council still has not put together its' Strategic Plan for this term.  In contrast, all local governments in the Central Interior have put their plans together (with the exception of the Cariboo Regional District which will begin its' Strategic Planning this fall) and are moving forward with them.  As one pointed out to me - this is shocking considering Williams Lake Council sometime before September 1st will have to give direction to Staff to develop the 2013 City of Williams Lake Budget.  As many on Facebook have said - Williams Lake City Council have become "7 administrators and focus on the little things" rather than developing an overarching plan for the City for the term of 2011-2014

Finally - you can read the well written Surrey Poverty Plan here

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Quesnel/Williams Lake Councils' Business - July 16th/17th

For those in Quesnel - your City Council will consider the following items at its' Monday meeting:

a) Public Hearing on Bylaws 1705/1706 (All Kinds of Storage - 392 Johnston Avenue).  Read here and here

b) Land Donation from Appletree Venture Corp - read here
c) Councillor Roodenburg to report on NC Multicentre Fundraising activities - read here

d) Federal Community Infrastructure Improvement Grant, Projects in Quesnel - read here
e) ABC Allen Business Communications Ltd. Lease Agreement - read here
f) Councillor Thapar & 3rd Motion of Censure/Sanctions - read here

Meanwhile, for those in Williams Lake, your local City Council will consider the following items at its' Tuesday meeting:

a) 2 Delegations

i) IHA Update from Allison Ruault
ii) RCMP Update from Inspector Warren Brown/Safer Communiies Coord. Dave Dickson

b) Councillor Bourdon to attend 2012 Billy Barker Days in Quesnel at a cost of $296.00 - read here

c) Receipt of 3 information items as follows:

i) 2012 2nd Quarter Economic Report - read here
ii) UBCM Presentation to Business Taxation Panel - read here
iii) 2012 CFIA Report on Small Business Taxation - read here

d) Topography Survey at WL Regional Airport - read here
e) Winners of Cabinet Wraps (10) to be awarded by Council - read here
f) Award of City Hall HVAC System Installation - read here
g) Approve installation of Air Quality Station at WL Fire Hall - read here
h) Update on work at former Slumber Lodge - read here
i) Approval of 2012 Terry Fox Run
j) License of Occupation for Community Garden #2 on Carson Drive - read here
k) WL Council to apply for UBCM Community Excellence Award - read here
l) Request by local Conservation Society to protest changes to Fisheries Act (Bill C-38) quashed  - read here
m) Approval of 2012 Youth Street Party (local Boys/Girls Club)
n) Council to receive a letter from Community Services Minister Ida Chong informing it that it'll receive $488,354 in Strategic Community Investment Funding - read here